Anavryti (alternate spellings include: Anavriti) is a small village in Laconia, Greece, located at 850m on Taygetus mountain. Overseeing Evrotas' valley, Anavryti is run through by the European walking route E4. It is part of the municipal unit Mystras.
The first paved road to Anavryti was built in the 1980s with donations sent by the Anavryti Hometown society in Astoria, Queens, New York. Until that time, the village could only be accessed on foot or by donkey. (this paved road / donkey only thing is not true; I was born in Sparta and visited Anavryti three times in the 70s, each time taking a bus there from Sparta; the bus driver's name was Kousoulas)
During World War II Nazi occupation forces made the steep climb up to the village to destroy the houses of suspected partisans.
Over the years the village has been established as one of the best eco-tourism destinations. The vast amount of walking paths combined with its beautiful landscape, makes the area a photographer's paradise. The village has a modest but clean, modern hotel and restaurants.
In Anavryti's Geological Museum a variety of elements and pictures related to the fauna and flora of the village and its surroundings are exhibited. Furthermore, there is a separate exhibition dedicated to Taygetus mountain.
There is a tradition that when the Jewish community of Mystras was expelled by the Venetians, they sought refuge in Anavryti and were the ancestors of some of today's inhabitants. _____________________________________________________________________________
[Below text added by Theo Vavas, aka, Theodoros Prokopiou Vavaroutsos;October 20, 2011]
Originally there were two ways to get to Anavryti from Sparti. One was the unpaved,notorious,zigzaged and almost vertical road,which could only accommodate medium sized buses and which is now paved. The other was a stony, difficult and dangerous climbing path even for a donkey or a mule, on the north side of the precipice, which I had taken on foot on two occasions back in the 1950's when I was only twelve years old, with my eleven year old first cousin, Panagiotis Arniotis, who lived in Anavryti. It takes about one hour to reach the village from Sparti on this path and it is a wonderful and worthwhile experience. There was a small cave with a water spring half way up this path where we would take a rest, drink the delicious water and eat our home made bread, olives and feta cheese that we had packed in small cloth kitchen towels.
Although I was born and lived in Sparti, I spent a few weeks every year in Anavryti with the Christos Arniotis family, my first cousins. They raised chickens, rabbits, black goats, had beehives that produced award winning honey and they had a donkey. They also maintained a number of small plots for growing vegetables down by a stream, like most of the villagers did. My uncle had an amazing workshop, with all hand made tools, on the ground floor where he would build everything that was needed. I had some of my most memorable and pleasant experiences in Anavryti as a child and I participated in the family's small farming activities. The Arniotis farm house was located on the most southern part of the village, which was actually the flat top of another precipice with amazing views of the Sparti valley, all the way south to Gythion and the Mediterranean Sea. On the face and half way up of this 600 foot high cliff there was a large cave, with about a twenty foot oval opening, that ran north for miles. It can only be accessed by rope climbing.
At that time Anavryti had no electricity or pipped water. Oil and gas lamps were in use then, and we had to fetch the water in ten gallon tin cans from the center of the village where spring water was running continuously from a spigot drilled into a large white stone. Down and across from this cliff ran a wonderful stream with beautiful trees and bushes, its water originating from much higher up mount Taygetos, which my cousin and I had followed far up to its source, another wonderful spring with a huge oak tree right next to it. Many times we would have to get up at 3 AM and go down to the small vegetable plots when it was our turn to share the water. This wonderful water comes from the snow melt.
On one Christmas week my cousin, his younger sister Sofia and I decided to go up the mountain and get us a Christmas tree. We had to climb straight up in the snow for two hours to reach a patch of young trees where we cut down one and started our descent back to the village while dragging our tree behind us. Just as we approached the village, seven year old Sofia suddenly stopped, and with wide open eyes and strong voice said to us "Do you know that cutting down these trees is illegal, and we will all go to jail if we bring it into the village ?" Her older brother and I looked at each other for a few seconds, and without saying a word we left the tree there and quietly we all went home, feeling so very guilty.
The book referred to here by Leigh-Fermor P. Mani: 'Travels in the Southern Peloponnese'. London, Penguin Books, 1984, is an excellent read on this area, especially on Mani.
In the village of Mystra, where my father was born and raised and where I had also spent a lot of time, I had once asked my grand father about silk growing. He told me that for many years and up to not that long ago, silk growing was the main activity in Mystra, introduced much earlier by a Jewish population (Most historians of this area indicate Saphardic Jews; of Spanish or Portuguese descent). There are no written documents from that period on this subject. The local Spartans,'Spartiates' referred to the residents of Anavryti 'Anavrytiotes' as 'Jews' more in the sense of being 'tough bargainers' in their leather production trade. Leather production was definitely a major activity in Anavryti many years ago, but no one there remembers with certainty when it began or when it ceased. All of Laconia is a wonderful and amazing place to visit and to spend some easy-going time, unlike a tourist trap, especially if you have done some reading on the area in advance.[email@example.com]
Notable people from Anavryti
^ Landscapes of the Southern Peloponnese: a countryside guide, Michael Cullen, Sunflower Guides, Hunter Publishing, Inc, 2004, p. 91
^ Leigh-Fermor P. Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese. London, Penguin Books, 1984
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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